May 30, 2019 - Economy

Major media companies consider boycotts over Georgia abortion ban

Abortion-rights advocates rally in front of the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta on May 21. Photo: Tami Chappel/AFP/Getty Images

Hollywood heavyweights like Netflix, Disney, NBC and WarnerMedia are all considering film production boycotts if Georgia upholds its "fetal heartbeat" abortion ban.

Why it matters: Tax incentives for major film companies have made Georgia an East-Coast haven for major movie studios and production companies over the past decade.

Driving the news: Both WarnerMedia (formerly Turner) and NBCUniversal said Thursday that the bill, if passed, could impact their ability to do business in Georgia.

  • “We will watch the situation closely and if the new law holds we will reconsider Georgia as the home to any new productions," WarnerMedia said.
  • “If any of these laws are upheld, it would strongly impact our decision-making on where we produce our content in the future," NBCUniversal said.

Netflix became the first major Hollywood studio to make a public statement about the boycott on Tuesday after several celebrities and filmmakers began protesting the bill.

  • Disney CEO Bob Iger told Reuters on Wednesday that it would be "very difficult" to continue filming in Georgia if the ban goes into effect. "I think many people who work for us will not want to work there," he said.

Our thought bubble: A boycott would serve as a signal to lawmakers in Georgia and other states that restrictive abortion policies could impact their ability to lure projects, companies and jobs.

  • Similar "fetal heartbeat" abortion measures are currently being considered in Florida, South Carolina and Louisiana.
  • The 2017 "bathroom bill" corporate boycott in North Carolina was estimated to have cost North Carolina $3.76 billion over 12 years.

The big picture: Brands are taking positions on tough issues today more than ever before.

  • Research shows that consumers expect brands to stand up for issues they believe in, although some issues are more contentious to stand up for than others.
  • Abortion and gun control, for example, are 2 issues that brands typically stay away from, as they are more polarizing than issues such as equal pay or climate change.
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